The impact the last few years have had on the office space needs no introduction. The necessity to work from home and remotely changed the shape of the workspace as we know it.
Recent news has told us that 18% of the United States’ office space lies vacant, with 300 million square feet expected to be obsolete by 2030 as firms battle with the economic downturn and a rise in popularity of home working in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic of 2020.
However, while office space may well be reduced as we move into the future, there will always be a place for it. Not every company can work remotely, and a lot of the new working days we see are a hybrid blend between office and home working.
Innovative office designs and a rethinking of the traditional office space have been seen across the world, with many businesses taking a different approach to the workday.
Collaboration and communication are key elements of businesses, and features that are important to remain in place wherever people are working.
Of course, where people are working remotely, technology has enabled us to keep in touch with colleagues across the businesses and even the globe, however, in the actual office spaces themselves, we’re seeing some different approaches to the regular traditional office.
Coworking spaces are something that allow collaboration between not just employees in your company, but also across businesses.
Elements of coworking spaces can be brought into the traditional office, with creative ways for teams to meet, including kitchen areas, break out spaces and even informal areas such as 8-ball tables and beanbags – all of these provide a way for people to meet each other, collaborate and if nothing else, get communication flowing across the business.
As businesses cut down on the spaces they need, coworking spaces may become a viable option for many. Across the globe there are some very quirky and unique coworking spaces, which bridge the gap between home and office working.
Lisbon’s Village Underground is a space which promotes collaboration and culture, and as well as workspaces includes a recording studio and a restaurant. Of course, different businesses have different requirements so what works for one may not work for all, but options like this highlight the changing attitudes to the workspace.
A phrase all of us will have heard and tried to take heed of is the work-life balance, and this is something at the heart of many workplace changes we are seeing. As things have changed in the past few years, and many have worked from home, a full time return to the office for people that was expected hasn’t fully materialized.
Research from Knight Frank showed the expectation that “employees will work at least some of the week from home for the foreseeable future”, and just a third of businesses still pushing for a full-time return.
Balancing the work and free time of employees can be tricky, particularly when office visits are essential to the job. Clever workspaces have begun introducing more opportunities for downtime and screen breaks, as seen in Google’s Zurich space. Slides, cinema rooms and places to even have a dance are all part of the office, and elements of this can be implemented in offices for smaller companies too.
Having fun in the office can of course improve communication but above all the wellbeing of the workforce. As the workplace changes, work is not so much a place people go but a thing that they do, and that they do from anywhere. With this in mind, when employees need to go to the office, their welfare is important and employees that can have fun in the office are likely to be up to 20% more productive than those who aren’t.
A no-brainer then, to incorporate some interesting areas into an office where employees can take a break. Coupled with flexible options when available, providing a work-life balance while in the office too can result in happier, and in turn more focused and productive members of staff.
Remove the Office Feeling
One approach to the office space we have seen is to be clever with the design of the space. This can be simply making sure people have enough power sockets in which to plug in laptops, phones and printers. Aesthetics are important too, and by incorporating this into the design of the office from the get-go, a reputable supplier can ensure practical elements such as wiring and electrical enclosure boxes are considered as part of the overall build.
Removing the traditional office feeling though, can of course go much further than being practical with layouts and ensuring a flow of natural light. Bark, a company that create dog toys and treats, have a unique workspace which is designed for both humans and dogs to be side by side during the working day.
Using dog-friendly materials, the space allows employees to work at their will around the office, and has importantly been completed using cost-effective materials to show that this way of thinking can be commercially viable too. While naturally, this may be a step too far for many, the unique way of thinking again showcases how businesses have changed workspaces into something that works for them.